Something that has been on my to-do list for quite some time now is becoming a certified running coach. Even though I have been coaching for a year now, I really wanted to obtain the certification. Based on my years of experience, research on the running industry, and having so many coaches in my lifetime, I feel very comfortable coaching others. I figured this credential could only help me to better serve my clients.
RRCA, the Road Runners Club of America, is one of two organizations (that I know of) who certify individuals to coach others in the sport of running. A couple of things I have found of the RRCA Coaching Certification course is:
- It doesn’t come to the same area often
- It fills up very quickly, especially in large cities (NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, etc.)
I’ve been trying to get into courses for a couple of years now. I signed up for the email alerts, so am one of the firsts to know when a new course has opened up. In the past, I have either had a conflict, the flights are too expensive, or the course fills up in no time. As soon as I received an email a few months back that RRCA was coming to Ft. Lauderdale, I quickly checked my calendar and signed up immediately. I was finally into a class! Woo hoo!!
The coaching certification course is always held at a location picked by the host – the person that submits the city in hopes they are chosen. In Ft Lauderdale, our class was at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. It was a perfect location for our group of approximately 37 participants. The room was set up in classroom style, so it was very conducive to learning. It was a relatively comfortable space – as comfy as sitting for 9 hours straight can be.
Both days were completely jam-packed. We started at 8am and worked all the way until 5:15 or so. Lunch was catered to us (Toojay’s), so no one needed to leave. The course was led solely by one person, Randy Accetta. Randy is a professor at the University of Arizona, and a very fast marathoner. He no longer races, but when he was in his prime, he PR’d at 2:19 for the marathon. Not too shabby.
We were given a course book with all of the slides (over 400!) that we would be covering in the next couple of days. In the book was also the schedule for our course work.
Here is what Day 1 looked like:
- Coaching History
- Types of Runners and Their Training Needs
- Putting it Together with Physiology
- Types of Running
- How to Coach
- Coaching Nutrition
- Day One Conclusions
This is what we had in store for us on Day 2:
- Reflection on Day One
- The Business of Coaching
- Coaching: Sports Psychology
- Coaching: Injuries, Heat, and Altitude – plus managing workouts
- Building Programs, Part 1
- Building Programs, Part 2
- Conclusions and Next Steps
Without getting into too much detail about the actual information, I really want to highlight what I liked and disliked about the course. This way, those of you thinking whether or not you want you are interested in signing up can make a more educated decision.
- Diverse Group. There were new runners, experienced runners, and even people in their 50’s in 60’s looking to learn more. Some people were fast runners, high school coaches, or people just looking to learn more about the sport and leading others while participating in it.
- The Location. I am thrilled they brought the course back to Florida. Although it was a 4 hour (ish) drive down there, I was happy to not have to fly out of state. This way, Marcus could come along with me and enjoy a weekend at the beach –> I was quite jealous!
- Information Shared. In the span of two days, we covered a lot of information. I loved the classroom setting, and being around other people with like interests. Think about when you meet someone new for the first time, and they happen to be a runner – endless conversation. Just imagine a room with 37 of these people.
- Not an Expert on Information. The course leader was very knowledgable about running, running plans, etc., but I didn’t find him to be extremely knowledgable about a decent amount of the information that was covered. If there were questions on parts he wasn’t as familiar with (nutrition), he would simply say “I don’t know” and move on. While I wouldn’t want him to just make up an answer, I do think it would be beneficial to bring in an expert from the field to present on the particular subject. This obviously is not the course leader’s fault, but something that could be looked into by the RRCA.
- Storytelling. The course leader was a story-teller, which can be good and bad all at the same time. It made it easier to relate and get to know him, but it also put us pretty far behind on time. We ended up having to fly through some information due to being behind, which I think could have been avoided if we stayed on topic a bit better. We were also released late both days, which wasn’t ideal. Getting out 30 minutes late when you still have to drive across the state to get home kind of stunk.
- Skimming the Surface. I mentioned above how there was a lot of information shared. While this was a Level 1 coaching course, I honestly think it could have easily been covered in two weekends instead of 1. There was so much information that was really just highlighted, and I would have liked to see it go a bit more in-depth. We were told that there is going to be an opportunity to get to more of a specialized certification coming in January, which will include the Level 2 type information.
- For Beginners. I had a feeling this was going to be the case, but the RRCA certification is definitely for those new to coaching. I felt as though I knew 95% of the information shared. By no means is that to say I know all there is about coaching (I definitely do not!), but I didn’t walk away with as much new knowledge as I would have liked. Hopefully, the Level 2 course will be a bit more eye-opening.
After the course is complete, everyone is required to take a 100 question multiple choice exam. Each participant must also prove they are CPR certified and turn the proof into the instructor within 30 days, which is also the exam window. I plan to take the test within the next week or so.
Please feel free to email me if you have any specific questions about the course that I didn’t answer. I am more than happy to go a little more in-depth with you.